If in Germany a substantial amount of dangerous substances finds its way into the Rhine, we will be confronted with the consequences here in the Netherlands. The same is true for other countries in other river catchments. Vica versa, the Netherlands may be the first country that fish pass when migrating from sea to source. So for good water management, international agreements are indispensable.
The Netherlands is active within many international organisations. From the very outset, our country has been involved in the International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine.
The primary success of this commission was the reintroduction of salmon into the Rhine, even though Rhine salmon still needs human assistance to survive. Currently the commission is working on the following goals:
- more environment-friendly agriculture (less use of pesticides, using farmers as landscape managers);
- better early warning during disasters (such as when a serious accident occurs upstream);
- further reduction of discharges.
These measures are contained in the programme Rhine 2020 – Programme for the sustainable development of the Rhine.
As was done for the river Rhine, international commissions were also set up for the rivers Meuse, (in Dutch,) Scheldt, the Ems and for the North Sea. All of these commissions support the associated countries with the implementation of measures to improve water quality.
International cooperation: sharing knowledge
International cooperation is not limited solely to neighbouring countries and member states of the European Union (EU). The Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment also shares knowledge that it has built up on water management with other parties. This happens, among other ways, via the programme Partners for Water, in which other ministries, organisations and companies also participate. A similar example is the Netherlands Water Partnership.